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This article will be of interest to sales leaders and salespeople interested in improving their virtual engagement with prospects and customers.  With more than 50% of sales interactions occurring remotely, it is staggering to see a majority of salespeople under equipped and underperforming in their gradually diminishing but critical video meetings with buyers.

There are cost implications to consider to equip individuals for virtual selling success.  These costs should appear in the cost of sales budget.  Are you a sales leader in doubt about investing in salespeople to sell from home?  If so, take a snapshot of your Zoom screen at your next sales meeting.

 Analyze the background, illumination, camera angle, and sound quality of each individual.  Rate your team's set-up on a scale of 1-10.  If your team is 6/10 or less, then this article will be of value.  Are you serious about your sales team's virtual sales performance and prepared to invest in their work from home infrastructure? 

My Office Setup

The image below is of my Deskrig office setup.  I use a desk-riser as well as a laptop stand to elevate the camera to evye level. I always stand in virtual meetings.  I have a portable whiteboard flipchart, as well as pre-printed visual confections on poster boards to quickly convey big ideas.  My office has incandescent lighting and I use 4* LED lights to illuminate the blue screen behind me for crystal clear video with a branded office background.  My laptop is a new M-1 Mac with a GPU and I use a Canon EOS camera, but I even though the camera has a good microphone, I use a Yeti Nano cardioid microphone from Blue for excellent sound quality. When I am standing, which i do in every meeting, gesturing is natural and unforced and conveys in-room presence much more effectively than a seated talking-head.

My remote selling setup

Deskrig setup-1

Some salespeople will have already set themselves up for virtual selling success, but the majority have not or still have plenty of room to improve. To improve virtual meeting outcomes where video and whiteboarding is used on every call, consider including the cost of the following in your 2023 sales budget: 

  • HD video camera.  If an HD camera is not built into the laptop an external HD camera is mandatory. The leader in this space is Logitech and I selected their latest HD stereo camera.  There are cameras that work well for much less, but my philosophy is to invest in the critical infrastructure you rely on in every call vs. going cheap.  A case in point this morning on a Zoom call, a friend bought a $20 Webcam in the Amazon Prime sale, and while the image quality was fantastic, the sound was muffled, so he will have to buy an external mic for high-quality sound.

  • Internet bandwidth is a big issue. Lack of bandwidth makes video meetings problematic. 10MB/Sec down and 3MB/Sec up is the absolute minimum.. Your company should pay for Internet service for virtual salespeople and if bandwidth is insufficient an upgrade is required.

  • Camera angle (must be eye-level, whether sitting or standing)

  • Lighting should evenly illuminate the face, not over-bright, and no shadows.

  • A physical whiteboard behind the salesperson should not reflect light sources and lighting angles must be tweaked to provide optimal whiteboard lighting with minimal reflection. (I have priced three different whiteboard options depending on the home environment).  I recommend physical whiteboards for salespeople and standing vs. seated delivery.  When using a whiteboard, salespeople who are standing can communicate more effectively using their physiology to convey emotion and meaning, putting themselves in the room virtually with the buyer.

  • A microphone should provide crystal-clear sound with ample volume, without echoes from hard surfaces. Consider a quality wired USB or blue-tooth microphone for clear concise voice capture, -  a mic is not needed with the Logitech camera above.

  • We recommend a whiteboard behind the salesperson or SE, as background. Whiteboards can be wall-mounted or on wheels.

  • A whiteboard behind the salesperson makes the home office look more professional. It enables salespeople to swivel to capture and articulate ideas on the whiteboard. Ideas captured in real-time or pre-drawn in advance show competence and build trust.

Office desk, office chair, external monitor, desk-riser.

  • Do salespeople have a desk or do they use the bed or kitchen table?  Where possible situate the desk so the salesperson has a wall behind them, vs a view into the room.

  • IKEA has great drop-sided desk options for people working in tight spaces. A desk is a more professional setup, even in a bedroom.

  • Are salespeople sitting on a kitchen chair or an ergonomic office chair? - it's hard to do good work for 8 hours a day in an uncomfortable chair.

  • Do they have an external-monitor or only a laptop? A good quality high-resolution external-monitor could be of value.

  • Do they meet prospects sitting or standing in Zoom calls?  If they stand, do they have a desk-riser or standing desk to bring the camera and screen to eye level?  We recommend that salespeople conduct their meetings standing.  

Remote Meeting Mastery - Bill of Materials, with options

The following bill of material could be useful in budgeting for your sales teams success in 2021. 

Oh, one last thing, now that you have set your sales team up for remote selling mastery, we can teach sales teams a new way to engage customers using a whiteboard, to bring an added visual dimension and a conversation framework to naturally create dialogue and accelerate trust across the buying process, from the first call to implementation. Some of the products in the table below have been superceded or are not available in your area, so please seek cost effective alternatives

Remote Selling Excellence - Optional Bill of Materials

Item

Make and Source

Source Cost  (USD)

External HD video camera and stereo microphone (2020 model)

Logitech C930e Pro Stream Webcam – Full 1080p HD Camera

$129.99

 

USB Condenser Mic.

Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC and Mac, Cardioid Condenser Capsule, Adjustable Stand, Plug and Play – Black

$49.99

Lighting

Emart LED Video Light 11 Brightness/4 Color Filters Dimmable Photography Continuous Table Top Lighting, Adjustable Tripod Stand, USB Portable Fill Light for Photo Studio Shooting

$49.99

Wall-mount whiteboard

XBoard Magnetic Whiteboard 48 x 36, White Board 4 x 3, Dry Erase Board with Detachable Marker Tray

$57.99

Mobile whiteboard - large

Double Sided Mobile Whiteboard, 48 x 32 inches Large Rolling White Board, maxtek Reversible Magnetic Dry Erase Board Easel Standing Whiteboard on Wheels for Home Office Classroom

$148.67

Mobile Whiteboard - space constrained

Vertical mount 40 x 28 rolling whiteboard, with flip chart

$129

27" External-monitor

Dell 27 Monitor - S2721HSX

$169.99

Office Desk - dropside

IKEA Norden Gateleg table, white $199

Ergonomic office chair

XUER Ergonomics Office Chair Mesh Computer Desk Chair,Adjustable Headrests Chair Backrest and Armrest's Mesh Chair (Black)

$219.99

Desk-riser

FDW Adjustable Height 32 Inches Steel Standing Desk Converter Stand Up Desk Home Office Computer Desk Workstation,Black

$84.99

Virtual Selling Training

Remote Meeting Mastery Customer Storyboarding

Budget $1000, per head, for virtual training (up-to-8-hours) plus a consulting fee for customizing storyboard frameworks for specific selling motions